Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Well Can't You Just Let It Ring a Little Longer, Longer, Longer...

A photo of Sequoia National Forest that a friend of mine took when he was making trails in the back country there in 1986.

I heard the phone ring, but thought it was my alarm. I was confused at first, because I was pretty sure it was Saturday and my alarm is only set to ring during the week. I finally figured it out and answered my phone.

Me: Hello?

Neal: Hey there. What are you doing?

Me: (Trying not to sound like I just woke up) Nothing?

I looked to see what time it was and realized it was barely 9. That would mean it was 7 in the morning in California. What kind of insensitive idiot calls someone before 10 am on a weekend day?

Neal: You feel like coming to see Van Morrison play at the Greek Theater on the 1st?

Me: What? The first of which month?

Neal: June. You wanna come?

Me: (in disbelief) No. I don't live that kind of life. I can't just take off to see a concert in Berkeley. I wouldn't miss that much work or spend that kind of money unless I was doing something with my girls. Sorry.

In my head all I kept thinking was, "Shit. Shit. Shit! How do I get out of this?"

Neal: (sounding disappointed) Oh. Okay. So, um....Are you going running today?

Me: Oh, no. I have to go out of town to do this family thing in...Ottumwa. How about you? Are you going running?

Neal: No. I might walk into town at some point. I think... (Extremely long and awkward pause that I didn't even fill with nervous laughter, like I usually do when I'm on the phone)...Hey, my son got MVP on his basketball team...

Me: That's great. Did you go see one of his games?

Neal: No. He knows I don't like basketball. I've never been very good at it. If he played football, ran track or played baseball, I'd go see him. He's fine with it. He's really well adjusted. We talk on the phone, but I just don't really have time to go visit him...

Me: (not even trying to hide the annoyance and judgment in my voice) Really? Are you serious? Don't you think he'd be thrilled if you he saw you sitting in the stands at one of his games? Didn't you say that you were really hurt when you were younger and your dad wasn't around for you?

That was pretty nice of me. In my head I was thinking, "Can you be a parent and really be that fucking selfish? Do you understand how unattractive that is to a single mom? No, probably not, or you wouldn't tell me that and still think I'd ever date you.

Neal: No. That wasn't me. That must have been some other guy you dated...Or maybe that was my brother. My brother was really pissed-off at my dad. I already told you my son was fine with that. He doesn't feel abandoned by me at all. My ex was the one who decided to move my son an hour away from me, so I guess that's what she gets...Actually, I've been talking to my ex a couple of times a week lately...

Me: Hey, that's great. Maybe you guys can finally work things out...

Neal: Yeah, well...I gotta go. My cat's jumping all around on my deck.

Me: (laughing a little at his excuse, but also relieved) Well, you better go take care of your jumping pus...cat then. Bye.


Ananda girl said...

I agree how can you be a parent and be that selfish? Like when my grand kids' mom was over 2 hours late to get them and didn't bother to call... She was busy. Yuck.

What a great photo. I used to go to camp there every summer as a kid to Y Camp. Nice.

eskaysea said...

Why are boys raised to be MEN but not Dads?? I am perplexed by that. Awesome picture. Know what the sequoia forest reminds me of? You may like this, the year that Kevin went with his borderline incestuous older sis (she would have if he consented--no doubt in my mind), Karen, camping in the SNF and missed my 30th birthday (I was not invited btw, I think she wanted to seduce him). What did I get out of it, flowers, a guilt-tree (Madagascar Dragon tree) and, hand to goddess, a damned tee shirt. Rock on. Neal SUCKS!...favorite part...that musta been some other guy you dated.

Remiman said...

Sometimes when the painting seems a little off kilter, it is!

DJSassafrass said...

Bizar-o! I'm not a parent, but I's be at cricket matches if that's what my kid was into (apparently my kid will be British). Weird how he is so certain that his son is fien with it--justification/defensive much?

mighty jo said...

i think as a parent, i wouldn't take my son's word for it that he didn't mind me blowing him off (no oedipus interpretation here please). of course, im looking forward to embarrassing my kids...so i may not be one to talk. your ex sounds like an irresponsible emotionally unavailable drip. & he has a cat.

NoRegrets said...

Amazing. You are very patient to talk with him on the phone and not blow up. And a whole friggin' hour away. wow, that's so difficult.

MrManuel said...

Doesn't see his son play because he doesn't like the sport? That is garbage...

Tara said...

So he's taking his vengeance towards his ex-wife out on his son by not taking the time to see him? That's so hot. >:(

Well I'd better get back to work. My coworkers are jumping all over the office.

booda baby said...

I don't know. Showing up for the game doesn't translate into being a good parent, either. The call that was at his convenience says just as much; I guess I'd rather have someone be an honest asshole than pretend he knew how to man up.

Johnny Yen said...

I was out last night with an old college buddy who is also a parent these days. We talked about how it's all about them, not about you. We both recalled playing Candyland, checkers and other games that were not very exciting for us, but our kids loved it.

I happen to love baseball, but even if I didn't, I would never have missed any of my son's games for anything other than having to work. When his team went to their league's World Series last season, I took several shifts off to go to every game, at a considerable financial cost. I didn't care; I have the rest of my life to make money-- he only gets one childhood. I know it meant the world to him that I was there and at most of the other games over the last six years.

What really frosted my cookies about your friend's statements is when he said "so I guess that's what she gets" about his ex. What a twit; it's not about her. It's about his kid. I know exactly what you're saying about what he was saying about what he was saying being unattractive to a single parent, having been there. After divorcing a second time due to a spouse's inability to realize that kids have to come first, I decided, when I started dating again, to seek out another single parent; they're the only ones who get what another single parent deals with.

Glad you're rid of the dope.

Poptart said...

woah. weird stuff. you handled it well, where i would've blown up. love the picture though!

...and the mental picture of the cat on the deck. (???)

laura b. said...

Damn, Churlita. I liked Neal so much more when he was a cool character in your first love stories. Real Neal doesn't do much for me.

Churlita said...


That would be an amazing place to go to camp.


I know some great dads. Neal just isn't one of them and I'm so glad I broke-up with him 21 years ago. Whew.


That is so true, and in this case, the off-kilter is totally whack.


I know and he used the term well-adjusted to describe a kid who says he doesn't care if his dad ever makes an effort for him. Poor kid.

Mighty Jo,

All excuses and no accountablitiy - how boring and lame is that?


I think a lot of that was because I was half-asleep. It takes me a couple of hours to be awake and aware.

Mr Manuel,

I'd be interested to know the real reason. He's given me about 50 different reasons why he doesn't see his son. I'd love to hear his ex's side.


You made me laugh when you said that about your co-workers.

Yeah, there's nothing sexy about anything he said.

Booda Baby,

You're right. I know plenty of parents who show up for their kids' games, but still suck in other ways. It would at least be a good start. He, apparently has entitlement issues, among other things.


I think so too. Once you have kids, it's about them. Not that you can't have your own interests and life, but their shit always comes first. Duh.


It would have been less funny, but a better show of his character, if he had just stopped with the lame excuse and said he didn't want to talk to me anymore because I was judging his parenting.


He was much better when he was younger. He seems to have gotten worse and more immature as he has aged. Older Neal doesn't do much for me either.

Minyo said...

Wow! He just doesn't have a clue how his lack of appearance in his son's life is affecting his son. I'm impressed with your calm responses. It would have been really easy to just say what you were thinking. Yeah, and one hour...not that far at all...unless he doesn't have wheels.

Churlita said...


He doesn't have wheels. But if my girls lived an hour away, I'd work as many jobs as I had to, in order to buy some wheels. Wouldn't you?